NRMA & SCIA launch new report into disabled parking

Disabled parking space sign
Disabled parking space sign

Monday 1 November 2021: The NRMA and Spinal Cord Injuries Australia (SCIA) have today released new research which highlights that the supply of accessible parking spaces across NSW is drastically lagging behind the number of mobility parking permits being issued.

The ‘Where Do I Park’ report highlights that despite the number of mobility parking permits increasing by 60 per cent since 2007 to almost 400,000 licence holders, there have been no attempts to keep pace with the growth in accessible spaces in public and private car parks.

In NSW, almost 10 per cent (8%) of drivers either hold a mobility parking permit or travel with someone who does and that figure is expected to continue to rise. Shopping centres only require two per cent of parking spaces to be accessible, with residential zones requiring just once per cent.

Where Do I Park highlights that in 2020/21 12,992 people were fined for stopping in a disabled parking area without a current permit displayed.

The NRMA and Spinal Cord Injuries Australia are calling for long overdue improvements and a review of the suitability of accessible parking spaces and enforcement of mobility parking violations to reduce barriers for people with a disability to access mobility parking spaces.

The report recommends an audit of existing parking spaces to ensure they comply to design standards. This will mean safer and easier access for drivers and passengers entering and exiting vehicles.

NRMA Road Safety Expert Dimitra Vlahomitros said for people with restricted mobility, being able to use an accessible parking spot as a driver or a passenger is a game changer.

“This joint report between the NRMA and SCIA provides a clear roadmap towards improving the mobility for Australians by providing more better built parking spaces and ensuring people who abuse disabled parking spaces are caught and fined,” Ms Vlahomitros said.

"Not only are there are not enough accessible parking spaces in most public and private parking lots to meet demand, despite hefty penalties and demerit points for offending drivers the supply of accessible spaces is further strained by the misuse of accessible parking spaces.

"Nearly 13,000 people were slapped with a fine and lost a demerit point last financial year for stopping in a mobility parking area without a current permit displayed. This number is too high.

“The message is simple; if you don’t have a permit or if the permit holder is not in the car, don’t park there.”

Spinal Cord Injuries Australia CEO, Dianne Lucas says, “Twenty three percent of Spinal Cord Injuries Australia’s workforce have a physical disability, most of which need to drive to be independent. It’s important that city planning further accommodates for a growing population of drivers with disabilities.”

One of those is Community Engagement Lead, Susan Wood, who has had paraplegia since birth, “I’ve been a driving for over 20 years and although there has been progress when it comes to inclusion for people with disabilities, it is slow. Integrating people with disabilities is more than meeting a minimum quota, it means fully embracing that accessibility needs to be our future.”

Where Do I Park also calls for the use of technology to help people find and reserve accessible parking spaces. The NRMA supports efforts to introduce compulsory real-time data for parking to be accessible through the NSW Government’s app and the myNRMA app.

The Where do I Park report is calling for:

1. More accessible parking spaces and improved ratio of accessible parking spaces

2. Real-time data for every private and council-held accessible parking space across NSW.

3. An audit of the suitability of accessible parking spaces

4. More enforcement of accessible parking laws and targeted education campaigns

5. Harsher penalties for repeat accessible parking offenders.

6. Signage displaying the demerit point penalty near accessible parking spaces to deter drivers from parking illegally.

7. Encourage private car park operators to allow police or other authorised enforcement officers access to their property to enforce accessible parking laws.

Click here to view the full Where Do I Park report.